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Should I hire a nonfiction ghostwriter?

If you have expertise that should be shared with your audience, but you don’t have the time or skills to write a compelling book, you should consider hiring a nonfiction ghostwriter.

Ghostwriters work to discover your voice and then write as if they were you. It’s then to the client’s discretion to disclose how much help they had in writing the book.

Some estimates say that up to 60 percent of bestselling nonfiction is ghostwritten. Why is that?

Many of the top nonfiction titles are by celebrities or influencers, many of whom don’t have the time or particular skillset to write a publishable book. So that person, or their agent or publisher, hires a working writer to ghostwrite the book.

Typing on a typewriter with a blank piece of paper. By Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels via Canva Photos.
Typing on a typewriter with a blank piece of paper. By Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels via Canva Photos.

In strict ghostwriting, the writer doesn’t appear on the cover, isn’t mentioned in the book, and always remains a ghost. In recent years, more ghostwriters have been thanked in a book’s acknowledgments section.

Ghostwriting has often courted controversy, but it’s become more well-regarded lately due to the stratospheric success of authors like J. R. Moehringer, who penned Prince Harry’s Spare and Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog.

Ghostwriting is sometimes referred to as collaborative writing. If you see a secondary byline on a book, e.g. with Blake Atwood, that typically means the author provided their expertise and insight while the secondary author crafted the words.

Hiring a nonfiction ghostwriter ensures that the book you’ve been meaning to write if only you had the time can actually get written.

How does the ghostwriting process work?

The ghostwriting process is tailored to the client and generally takes one of three forms:

  • The client and ghostwriter meet on a regular basis, whether in person or via virtual meetings, to talk through the manuscript in process.
  • The client provides a compilation of written, audio, or video material for the ghostwriter to hone and rework.
  • The client sends the ghostwriter a work-in-progress and the ghostwriter reworks and/or completes the manuscript.

The ghostwriting process is above all collaborative but with respect to the author’s availability and their level of desire to speak into the book.

How much does ghostwriting cost?

Ghostwriting rates depend on the manuscript length and the ghostwriter’s experience.

So if you believe the internet, you can expect to pay between $6,500 and $1 million for a ghostwritten book.

Scribe Media offers a good breakdown of a ghostwriter’s quality based on their rate:

  • Low Quality: $1,000 to $24,000
  • Good Quality: $25,000 to $75,000
  • Best Quality: $100,000 to $250,000+

They also say, “At minimum, you need to budget five figures. If you can’t afford that, then you shouldn’t hire a ghostwriter.”

If you’re considering hiring a nonfiction ghostwriter or collaborative writer, please complete this intake form.